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Church sanctuary created as an ‘ol fashion Christmas scene

By Staff | Dec 18, 2017

RUTH FRY/The Luminary Committee members working on the set design and construction of the old fashioned Christamas Village at the First United Methodist Church in Pennsdale are (left to right): Edie and Gregg Gilbert, Donnie Trimble, Fred Temple, Stephanie Trimble, and Cindy Reed. Missing from the photo are Mary Walters, Joan Hilkert, and Letty St. Martin.

PENNSDALE – Step back in time when you enter the First United Methodist Church in Pennsdale during this holiday season. A Victorian Christmas has adorned the sanctuary and the interior of the church on Village Road with the help of members from their Worship Committee.

Christmas hymns this year will be sung amidst an old New England village, “like when they first settled the country,” said Edie Gilbert, one of the leading organizers of the theme. Each year the committee thinks up a new theme. Two years ago it was candy canes.

Starting in August the committee got together to research Victorian scenes and then used a projector to draw three dimensional landscapes along the walls. They painted pine tree murals and added sparkling stars and snow to the scenes to give it some depth and movement according to Gilbert whose husband Greg helped with some of the carpentry work.

Other members who helped to build and design the set are Stephanie and Donnie Trimble. They would work in the all purpose room and move the painted murals whenever the room was rented.

Scaffolding was used to hold up the set, foam board was used for the structures and carpet rolls painted black were used for the pillars that hold flickering lanterns. A wall was constructed around the organ with a painted “welcome” sign.

RUTH FRY/The Luminary Victorian scenes were painted along the walls leading up to the sanctuary by the Worship Committee of the First United Methodist Church on Village Road in Pennsdale.

“We finally finished the weekend after Thanksgiving,” said Gilbert who attested to hours of work from the committee. Because of the size of the project and the extent of the village scene, the committee was advised to possibly reveal it to the public. So they decided on having an open house on Saturday, January 6 from 10 a.m. to noon at the sanctuary.

Cindy Reed and Joan Hilkert made many of the ornaments and Mary Walters helped with painting and construction. The Gilberts said they were impressed on how well the entire project turned out. “It was God’s divine hand that helped this come out so well,” commented Edith.

The structure is built to at least 17 to 18 feet high. They nailed and glued the wall pieces together, some days working for hours at a time.

“We would come up with ideas, and discover things as we went along,” said Gilbert. Many accessories were added such as ringing bells, wooden dowels and finials and many supplies that came up from the storage area.

Fred Temple would come early on Sundays to get everything lit, and he even incorporated some of his garden sculptures into the scenery. Letty St. Martin, another committee member helped and brought in some paint scraps from home. “It all came together,” said Edie, “just in time for the Sunday after Thanksgiving.”